Philosophy of Evidence-Based Medicine
Howick J., Graham Kennedy A., Mebius A.
Since its introduction just over two decades ago, evidence-based medicine (EBM) has come to dominate medical practice, teaching, and policy. There are a growing number of textbooks, journals, and websites dedicated to EBM research, teaching, and evidence dissemination. EBM was most recently defined as a method that integrates best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values and circumstances in the treatment of patients. There have been debates throughout the early 21st century about what counts as good research evidence between EBM proponents and philosophical critics and even within the EBM community itself. Similar controversy arises about the relative worth of patient values and clinical expertise (and how these can be integrated). EBM has also evolved in ways that have come under scrutiny. Specifically, policymakers have used EBM research methodology to increase the relative importance of clinical guidelines that some clinicians have argued are tyrannical. Philosophers have addressed all of these controversies, and with very few exceptions have been critical of EBM. In addition most philosophical attention has been on the epistemic role of Randomization and evidence hierarchies, with relatively little attention being paid to the role of Diagnosis, expertise, patient values, and Systematic Reviews within EBM.